Avatar universal

Cold Sores contagious to someone with HSV1?

I know that I have HSV1 from being tested (with the type-specific test), but I have never had a cold sore.  My boyfriend gets cold sores, but quite rarely.  He has moved out of town and just visited this weekend, and has an active sore on his lip.  We kissed quite a lot over the weekend, because I thought that because I have HSV1 already, his cold sore could not be contagious to me.  Now, though, I am feeling a tingling on my lip that corresponds to where his sore was, and I'm getting worried that somehow I caught it.  

Can kissing someone with an active cold sore "wake up" HSV1 in someone that has a dormant version of the disease?  I know that obviously you can't "catch" HSV1 from someone with a cold sore if you already have HSV1, but can you catch a cold sore from someone with an active sore even if you already have HSV1?  Also, if you already have HSV1, can you develop genital sores if someone with cold sores performs oral sex on you?  I guess ultimately I'm asking, does having HSV1 without any sores provide an immunity to contracting sores from someone contagious?  Finally, if I do develop a cold sore, does that mean that I now have an "awake" version/mutation of the disease and I have to worry about getting more of them, or does it just mean that my antibodies couldn't handle this particular influx of disease and as long as I don't kiss someone with an active sore again, I'll be fine?  
9 Responses
Avatar universal
Oh, and one more thing - when I was tested, my HSV-1 igg type specific test value was 1.6..  Is this definitive, or a low (possibly false) positive?  I am wondering, because it does seem more likely that I could have caught a cold sore if I didn't have HSV-1.  I know I'll have to wait to see if a cold sore develops to be sure, I am just trying to figure out some of the risks/possibilities now.  
Avatar universal
Wow, you are all over the map with this. First you said you have it and now you may not but you still kissed someone with a lesion. If you didn't have it before, you may have it now. First off, let's say you don't have it and were kissing him. If you started getting tingling a day or 2 later, no, it's not the herpes prodrome symptom since it would take longer than just a few days to get. If you already have it, you are immuned from getting it. You can still get HSV2 though and having HSV1 probably does help fend off getting it but there are lots of people with both HSV1 and 2.
Avatar universal
Thanks for the information about prodrome - that's really helpful.  It has definitely only been a few days, so I was probably just biting my lip or it was psychosomatic or something.  

With the test results, as far as I knew, I was sure I had HSV1, but then I realized I had seen people with higher positive test values, so that tingling made me wonder if my positive test was a low or possibly false positive.  I don't think it is a false positive, as I had childhood friends and relatives with cold sores and I had the kind of casual contact with them that spreads HSV1, but just wanted to make sure.  

My main question still isn't quite answered, though.  I know that if you have HSV1 you are immune to catching it insofar as you can't catch what you already have.  But even though people use the terms "HSV1" and "cold sores" interchangeably they are not actually the same thing - HSV1 is the disease, and cold sores/lesions are a symptom.  I've been having trouble finding any information on whether coming in contact with someone else's lesions can aggravate my own existing HSV1, or cause me to get a lesion, especially if my HSV1 is nonsymptomatic or dormant.  The information seems weird, because it talks about how contagious a lesion is and how careful people should be - even worrying about auto-inoculation..  It sounds like nobody should ever kiss someone with a cold sore...  But then it also says it doesn't matter if you already have HSV1 - which just doesn't make sense to me.  
Avatar universal
The HSV is a name of a disease and the cold sores is IT. Not sure why you are separating them both from each other. As far as Auto Inoculation, yes, if someone recently contracted HSV1 or 2, their bodies have not formed the antibodies to keep the disease at check so what can happen is if you get a lesion for the very first time and you break it open and start touching your genitals, you can reinfect yourself. Once you have the disease and have the antibodies formed, this can't happen. However, having HSV1 MAY help prevent to a degree HSV2 but that's something to be proven. Now if you are HSV1 positive and you come in contact with someone with cold sores, you can do what you want with that person. You already have it and you can't give it to yourself again. Again However, make sure the HSV you are looking at on the other person is the same one you have.. Now it gets tricky because you either trust what he/she tells you or you both get tested.
101028 tn?1419603004
having hsv1 previously, gives you significant protection against contracting hsv1 on other body parts. It can happen but the risk of such is low. we don't recommend allowing a partner with an active cold sore though to perform oral sex on you for many reasons.

can you get more than one strain of hsv1 orally? yes you can. will it cause you to suddenly have obvious cold sores if you did? no it does not. it's actually your genes that determine if you will get obvious cold sores or not. give mom and dad a high five for passing on the gene that keeps you from getting obvious cold sores :)  

could your hsv1 igg be a false positive? well it could be. we think the false positive issue is less of an issue with hsv1 than hsv2 but it's harder to rule out false positives with hsv1 due to the less sensitivity of the testing we currently have for hsv1. if it really concerns you, by all means seek out a herpes WB blood test. unfortunately even that still misses 1 out of every 10 hsv1 infections but if you got a + on it, it would give you the answers you are looking for.

keep asking questions!

Avatar universal
Thanks so much for all that info, grace - it definitely answers my questions, especially the part about genetics determining whether or not one gets obvious cold sores.  

The one question this leaves me with is, what are the "other reasons," aside from the possibility of transmitting HSV1 to the genitals, of not allowing someone with an active sore to perform oral sex on you?  Is it primarily for their safety, because with a sore they'll be more susceptible to anything that you have?  
101028 tn?1419603004
an active cold sore is a portal into the body for germs. what is normal bacteria in the genital tract, isn't always so normal in an open cold sore. same as the friction of performing oral can delay healing of a cold sore. they don't heal fast enough as it is once you get one, no need to prolong healing.
Avatar universal
Ok so what i got from this is, since i have had cold sores all my life and my girlfriend has HSV1, we don't have to use protection because I already have what she has?
15249123 tn?1478652475
Yes that is correct but until you both get tested for all std's you don't know exactly what each of you have. I'm not saying either of you have anything else but if you are not going to use protection it would be a good idea to test
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